My little girls and Max & Abby go back to school today.

My Hawaii girls start up again on Wednesday (and leave tomorrow…boo!).

It is a new year and so much has happened since I sat down to catch up on this little journal of mine. So much that I don’t even know where to start. We have delved deep into family togetherness, having everyone home for quite a long time (Grace has been home for almost a whole month!) and I have vacillated between stressing to take advantage of every single moment of all this precious time and being still enough to feel my gratitude for each of them laced deep into my bones. There is nothing like being enshrouded in a family, here at home and also up in Utah where we spent a few days to celebrate the new year (and to stick closer to Max and Abby who had to be back for volleyball, and also to meet our new “in-laws” who we’re planning this upcoming wedding with).

Wait what??? A wedding? You may ask? If this is hitting you as a surprise, let’s just back up for a minute and announce once again that Elle got engaged on December 10th and IS GETTING MARRIED on APRIL 21ST. I posted that big news back HERE, but life sped from zero to 358 in two seconds flat after that so let’s go back to that big-deal event.

Elle and Carson met last year. (Yes his name is Carson but they call him Lar in Hawaii for a reason he doesn’t even know but his brother gave us a good guess when we met him which isn’t really part of this post, but I think I’ll call him Carson rather than Lar here since that’s what his family calls him!). Elle and Carson lived right next to each other. He tried to set her up with his friend who really wanted to go out with her, but she saw something unique in him, not his friend, that she wanted to get to know. She came home for Thanksgiving last year with stars in her eyes about this boy.

Now, before we get any further in this story I think it’s important to note that Elle is funny with boys. She is not and never has been one to share her feelings about boys like other girls seem to be, and she is SLOW to be giddy about them and especially to fall in love for Heaven’s sake. Her famous lines are things like “How could anyone every love anyone enough to marry them FOREVER!?.” And, “why would we date seriously, that just leads to a break-up.” Yeah, she’s that kind of a girl. She keeps things close to her sleeve and any boys she’s dated before have had to work their tails off with some serious patience to get her to notice them.

But this one was different. There was a calm about her when she first started talking about him, and a sparkle in her eye I hadn’t seen before. Was it just maturity or was this guy really that great?

As luck would have it, Dave and I got to go visit that little island where she lives last year around this time. We got to meet this Carson boy and we liked him from the start. So easy-going, easy to talk to, such a kind heart, and mostly, Elle was completely herself when she was with him. And was that a spark of giddiness we saw? New world for us.

She was sure always happier and more calm when he was around. And her world started to involve him in all she did.

He came to help hold down the fort here when Dave and I went to the Dominican Republic.

My parents invited Carson to our reunion at Bear Lake.

He became part of our FaceTime talks with Elle.

Lucy fell head-over-heels in love with that boy, as did the rest of us.

He just became part of us all so easily.

A few more dating pictures just to show how happy he makes my girl:

One day when I was riding the tandem bike to pick up Lucy from school Elle and I were on the phone, me with my headphones in as the wind whisked me along that crooked, sunny path, and her somewhere on her island in tears because it had hit her that she didn’t know what her future held. She really loved this guy, but she certainly wouldn’t be ready to settle down with him any time soon, she wasn’t going to get married until she was at least twenty-five, after all. But they both had college graduation on the horizon, and after that who knew what? She was a little teary wondering what would happen in her future, would they just go their separate ways? Could she bear to lose him if they did?

I smiled a very big smile, which seems a little mean in the midst of her teariness, but I couldn’t help feeling like these feelings were good for her. And for him. I told her to live her life and it would all work out if it was supposed to. Great relationships don’t need to be held together just because you live right next to each other. But I also smiled because I felt such a peace that this was so good for her: the boy as well as the process.

A few months later I was riding down that same crooked path, once again my earphones in my ears talking to that Hawaii girl, and this time around all that fear and stress in her voice was gone. She let me know she was going to marry that boy. Once again, I must have looked silly to all those cars whisking by because my smile was big as could be. It was like a piece of a puzzle that I had seen a spot for for a while and she had just figured out how it fit.

So then Dave and I were abuzz with so much excitement. Elle didn’t want to tell anyone about the plans she and Carson were brewing up until they were officially engaged. But that couldn’t happen, Dave claimed, until he had had a proper talk with Carson in person. By this time Elle had gone from all her hesitancy to some serious giddiness about getting engaged (again, so fun for all of us because it was so different for that girl). Carson wanted to surprise her with the engagement and it was getting into holiday season craziness. So Elle figured they wouldn’t get engaged until after Christmas.

But Dave, bless his heart, had to get to China during the beginning of December, and he came back as far as L.A. but took another flight from there over to Hawaii (he has free flight benefits which sure helps!). He met up with anxiously awaiting Carson (in the midst of his very busiest finals) and took him on a long, two-hour drive. Dave was trying to dodge everyone until the actual proposal, but he kept running into people we know or Elle knows, and vowing them to secrecy. He and Grace got to help Carson set up Elle’s roof with lights while he was in his last three-hour final and then Grace videoed the whole thing hiding behind some bushes with tears of happiness in her eyes. I’m so happy Grace got to be a part of this whole dealio, she was so happy.

I did a good job keeping that big secret despite the fact that my parents were here in town, asking about how it was all going. But that last night as Dad and I drove through the dark to pick up Claire from volleyball I spilled the beans to him (since it was an hour away and I was bursting with anticipation). Loved that little talk as we slipped along the freeway.

Elle was supposed to work until 8:00 which is 11:00 our time and I figured it would be after midnight by the time Carson actually popped the question and I was dying with anticipation! I was wishing I was there with all my heart and trying my best to be patient waiting for any news they would send. Somehow Elle went into work early and was done earlier and by 10:00 our time a picture popped up on my phone with those two BEAMING with happiness standing under that twinkle-lit rooftop ENGAGED.

Man alive I was so excited! I walked into the kitchen after all the hushed conversations with Grace and Dave on the phone, a huge smile stretched across my face and showed Claire the picture. Then my Dad. We woke up Lucy who had been hoping with all her heart that this would happen, and her excitement was the sweetest thing ever including fist pumps and cheers (after her initial puzzled grogginess as to why in the world we were waking her up).

And then huge smiles ’til all our cheeks hurt, and an impromptu engagement celebration past midnight on a school night with hot chocolate. I couldn’t sleep after that. Too much to think through and my heart was pumping. And happy. It’s the best thing in the world when your children find people who make them so happy.

So now it’s on to wedding planning and it’s the worst! Ha! Ok, it’s pretty fun but we are having the hardest time finding a dress (she knows everything she doesn’t want, that’s for sure!), and they are getting married IN HAWAII in April, so the logistics are a little bit on the tricky side as of right now.

So there you go, the story of the big engagement according to me.

Send any ideas about planning a wedding in Hawaii, places to stay, places to have a reception, you know, all that jazz if you have them! We’ll take any advice/help we can get as we bask in all this excitement.

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    1. Shawni, I found your blog over two years ago when my oldest was just leaving on his mission and I have loved your advice on helping these kids of ours enter adulthood. Especially love your thoughts on letting them figure it out and how much they grow because of it. It’s hard for this mom to watch them struggle but so rewarding when they have those “a-ha” moments. Thanks for sharing!

  1. Congratulations!! They look like a wonderful couple. I wish them all the best and I cannot wait to see that beautiful, slender girl in a wedding dress. I’m thinking barefoot on the beach for pictures and fresh flowers on her hair.

  2. They look so happy and she looks so calm and comfort and that’s amazing!!
    I can’t wait to see her as a beautiful bride !

  3. The best advice I received when getting married was that if you aren’t having a videographer, to have a friend video all of the toasts and first dances so that you can go back and watch those special moments and hear those precious words. Congratulations to your family!

  4. Congrats to the happy couple!

    I had to laugh when you said Elle was “calm” around him, and that helped you know he was something special. My mom said she knew my husband was the guy for me because he could get me out of my “moods” easily with humor. I guess I was a moody 20-something. 🤣

    1. Ha! Carson does that with Elle too and it’s such a beautiful thing to watch as a parent, so I get your mom!

  5. Definitely check out Kualoa Ranch to see if they have any venues available since it’s on that East side also and has ocean views! Also the South west side has a few big hotels off the beaten path and is on the beach with lagoons that have tons of weddings and pics taken there all the time! Beautiful for sunsets and pics! Turtle Bay May or may not be available… Dillingham Ranch also has beautiful venues! Good luck guys! Being on the brides side of the wedding is a whole new ballgame! 🙂

    1. Yes it sure is! Thank you for the suggestions, totally looking into them. Dillingham Ranch looks so pretty!

  6. Find a senior sister missionary in the seamstress area of PCC. Have your daughter bring pictures or sketches and meet with her and ask if she has free time to make the dress.

  7. CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’m so happy for your daughter, her fiancé, the whole family and…you!!!!! Trust in perfect timing. Thank you for sharing your joy. More joy back at you💖

  8. My cousin is Lauren Riboldi. She and her husband live on Oahu and own a photography/videography business. Look her up on Instagram @ockeydockey if only to see her wedding! They were married in the Laie Temple and had a reception at Turtle Bay.

  9. Would it be too obvious to consider having a wedding reception luau? Could maybe have it organized by one of the hotels. Might be fun. Either way, no matter what you guys choose, is sure be gorgeous with HI as a backdrop!

    1. That would be fun. We are thinking a bbq beach dinner the night before, we’ll see what we can figure out!

  10. Longtime reader and I’ve wondered this for so long – do you pronounce Elle like “Ell” or like “Ellie” ?!

    1. Ha! Good question! We do both. I call her Elle like “L”, her growing-up friends call her Ellie (and sometimes her siblings), people in Hawaii call her Wellesley or Wells, she’ll answer to all of them! Which is funny because We call Carson Lar, but his family calls him Carson, oh they have some tricky names. Ha!

      1. I’m so happy for all of you! I saw on Instagram and I’m just slower to read blogs sometimes but I always read them.
        Just out of curiosity because I’ve never heard it before this blog, but where did you get her name from? I love unique names (but also love the other kids’ names).

  11. Super exciting. I bet there are a lot of sad boys. LOL. I would fly her to China and get her a custom dress. We live here now. You could get something truly magnificent here and highly likely cheaper. I’m sure your husband has contacts aplenty who could help. We have a pending application to BYU H in our house. I am not convinced it is the place, but it sure looks dreamy.

    1. Oh I love those China fabric markets! We got some good stuff made there back when we were there! Love that you get to live there now! It’s such an incredible place! BYU H is pretty great too, but SO FAR AWAY! Miss my girls!

  12. OMG I’ve followed your blog forever, but this is my first time commenting.
    What a gorgeous gorgeous couple! They really seem to have such a relaxed, comfortable chemistry and they look absolutely happy together.
    I want to applaud Elle and Lar for being patient and taking their time dating and figuring out their goals and compatibility. Seems like they are a wonderful match, and I’m happy you seem to be at easy with all of this. You just hope your kid makes the right choice with their partner, and Lar seems really great. The wedding will be lovely for sure, and I can’t wait to see what you end up sharing about it.

    Congratulations and all the best!

  13. So fun to read all this and realize how much I missed and yet how how much I now know! I’m also happy about those two great people finding each other! Such a delight to watch her try on wedding dresses and be so nice about the ones she didn’t like (which was most of them). haha.. She’s a treasure! And so is he! Lots of fun ahead!

  14. I’ve been reading here for so long… so awesome to watch your family grow! Thank you for continuing to invite us along! xo

  15. In case you can’t figure out why Elle specifically fell for Carson- just take a look at the first picture— he reminded her of her father, who she, like every other girl, had held up as perfection.

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